Ohio State's 2014 Schedule Brings Fewer Cupcakes and That's a Good Thing

By Kyle Rowland on January 26, 2014 at 6:00a
Virginia Tech serves as Ohio State's marquee non-conference game.

It wasn’t long ago that Ohio State’s football schedule featured an annual matchup with a national title contender. In recent years, though, there’s been no Texas, USC or even Notre Dame. Instead, the Buckeyes have feasted on cupcakes such as Cal, Colorado and MAC schools.

The scheduling dynamic isn’t entirely Ohio State’s fault. Games are agreed upon a decade in advance, which means downturns can happen. Series with Washington, Miami and Cal were not the marquee games envisioned when contracts were signed. Still, it made for easy criticism when the Buckeyes’ 24-game win streak included one game against a top-15 team – Northwestern, who then went into an epic tailspin.

What followed for Ohio State were consecutive losses to top-10 foes. With the College Football Playoff a reality, undefeated national champions will become more rare. The Buckeyes aren’t in position yet to be playoff bound with a loss, but national respect will rebound with signature wins and a tougher schedule.

The future includes Virginia Tech (2014-15), Cincinnati (2014, 2018), Oklahoma (2016-17), North Carolina (2017-18), TCU (2018-19), Oregon (2020-21), Boston College (2020-21) and Texas (2022-23).

Expectations never dip in Columbus, especially with Urban Meyer at the helm and Braxton Miller at quarterback. The excitement surrounding the hires of Larry Johnson and Chris Ash have only added to the anticipation for 2014, and we are only three weeks removed from the Orange Bowl.

If Ohio State runs the table, there’s little doubt about its playoff prospects. The only unknown is where would they play – the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl? The Buckeyes’ non-conference slate features games against Navy, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati, which won a combined 26 games last season. Kent State is also on the docket.

It’s much more difficult than Meyer’s first two August and Septembers. Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State add some meat to the Big Ten schedule. Games against Maryland and Rutgers present unknowns, essentially mirroring non-conference games.

Aug. 31 vs. Navy (at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore)
2013 record: 9-4, defeated Middle Tennessee State in Armed Forces Bowl

Ohio State begins the season away from Columbus for the first time since 1999, when the Buckeyes lost to Miami in the Kickoff Classic. The last time Ohio State played Navy it nearly lost, using a Brian Rolle pick-two on a two-point conversion attempt in the closing minutes to eke out a 31-27 victory.

The Midshipmen are never an easy team to prepare for due to their unique offense. The triple-option and cut blocks can pose issues for even the most talented teams. Only Auburn rushed for more yards than Navy last season. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds, the catalyst for the Middies’ 325 rushing yards per game, returns. They’ve made noise for upsetting name-brand programs under Ken Niumatalolo. Consider Larry Johnson’s first order of business – after recruiting, of course – giving the defensive line a lesson in stifling the triple-option.

Sept. 6 vs. Virginia Tech
2013 record: 8-5, lost to UCLA in Sun Bowl

When this game was agreed to way back when, it generated great excitement. But Virginia Tech’s taken a step back in recent seasons. The Hokies began last year with a 6-1 record before faltering down the stretch, losing four of their last six games.

On its first trip to Ohio Stadium (likely at night), Virginia Tech be breaking in a new quarterback. Three-year starter Logan Thomas is off to the NFL. Running back Trey Edmunds enjoyed tremendous success during his freshman season and should be leaned on in 2014, especially early in the year. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster will spend the entire summer devising a game plan to slow down Braxton Miller and the Ohio State offense.

In 2015, the Buckeyes travel to Blacksburg for a Labor Day matchup.

Sept. 13 vs. Kent State
2013 record: 4-8

The Golden Flashes enjoyed unprecedented success two seasons ago, posting an 11-2 record and coming within one win from playing in the Orange Bowl. Two years later, all the good vibes have evaporated. Former Ohio State assistant Paul Haynes could only muster four wins in his first season as head coach.

The Buckeyes haven’t lost to a MAC school since 1894, and that streak won’t end on this September day. By far the easiest game on Ohio State’s 2014 schedule, it should give backups and walk-ons an opportunity to play in the Horseshoe.

Sept. 27 vs. Cincinnati
2013 record: 9-4, lost to North Carolina in Belk Bowl

In the past, Cincinnati meant an easy win. But these aren’t your father’s Bearcats, or even your brother’s. Since moving to the Big East (now the American), Cincinnati has taken football serious and won at a staggering rate. It owns two BCS berths, four conference titles and four 10-win seasons. Seemingly the only thing eluding the Bearcats is a win over Ohio State.

Good coaches have been the common denominator, and Tommy Tuberville fits that mold. But the nine wins in his first season could be a tad deceptive. Cincinnati lost to South Florida and Illinois. Replacing quarterback Brendon Kay also won’t come easy. He threw for more than 3,300 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Whoever gets the starting nod will face a rested Buckeye team coming off a bye.

Date Opponent
8/30 Navy (at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium)
9/6 Virginia Tech
9/13 Kent State
9/20 --
9/27 Cincinnati
10/4 at Maryland
10/11 --
10/18 Rutgers
10/25 at Penn State
11/1 Illinois
11/8 at Michigan State
11/15 at Minnesota
11/22 Indiana
11/29 Michigan
12/6 Big Ten Championship Game

Oct. 4 at Maryland
2013 record: 7-6, lost to Marshall in Military Bowl

The Big Ten opener comes against an unfamiliar foe as Ohio State makes its first trip to College Park. Urban Meyer will see at least one familiar face, though – wide receiver Stefon Diggs. He’s become a phenom and would’ve fit in nice to the Buckeyes’ offense. Doran Grant is the favorite to cover the almost-Buckeye. Contain Diggs and Ohio State cruises to victory.

The climb for Maryland under Randy Edsall has been slow. But they’ve gone from two wins in his first year to four and then seven in 2013. The transition to the Big Ten will be tough for a team that lost 63-0 to Florida State. 

Oct. 18 vs. Rutgers
2013 record: 6-7, lost to Notre Dame in Pinstripe Bowl

The second conference game presents yet another unknown. This time Ohio State gets a week off to prepare. It likely won’t need it, though, considering Rutgers fielded one of the worst defenses in the country last year. It was so bad defensive coordinator Dave Cohen was fired. The Scarlet Knights could also be trotting out a new starting quarterback if senior Gary Nova doesn’t correct his turnover-prone habits.

Oct. 25 at Penn State
2013 record: 7-5

The Nittany Lions are firmly entrenched in the Big Ten, but it’s still a “new” conference foe for the third consecutive week. However, this season will be one of mystery for Penn State. There’s a new coaching staff led by James Franklin and scholarship restrictions could hold back the team.

But quarterback Christian Hackenberg will be primed for revenge after Ohio State’s 63-14 blasting in 2013. The game will almost certainly be played at night in white-out conditions with a national TV audience, adding to an already revved up series.

Nov. 1 vs. Illinois
2013 record: 4-8

It’ll be a season-long Judgment Day for Tim Beckman. He put an end to Illinois’ unseemly 20-game Big Ten losing streak. Still, the Illini are nowhere near approaching a winning season. They are 6-16 under Beckman and 2014 doesn’t produce much in the way of optimism.

Nov. 8 at Michigan State
2013 record: 13-1, defeated Stanford in Rose Bowl

Ohio State-Michigan State is without question the Big Ten’s game of the year in 2014. The history of mystique of Ohio State-Michigan clearly surpasses what the Buckeyes and Spartans have, but in the here and now, Nov. 8 is circled by both teams. Urban Meyer and Co. will start preparing for this game three weeks ago. Coaches might say revenge games don’t exist. That just simply isn’t true, though.

Connor Cook remains, but he’s missing some playmakers on offense. Running back Jeremy Langford is his biggest weapon. The losses of Max Bullough, Denicos Allen and Darqueze Dennard will be felt most. Pat Narduzzi will be tasked with replacing three of Michigan State’s all-time best defenders. He has experience with finding pieces to fill-in. After William Gholston and Johnny Adams departed, many believed the defense would come back to Earth. It didn’t.

Nov. 15 at Minnesota
2013 record: 8-5, lost to Syracuse in Texas Bowl

No one could have predicted Minnesota’s success last year, especially couple with head coach Jerry Kill’s health problems. At one time, Minnesota was 8-2. The transfer of quarterback Philip Morris is a blow and defensive lineman Ra’shede Hageman leaves a gaping hole on defense. An equalizer in this game could be the weather. Mid-November in Minneapolis is not kind.

Nov. 22 vs. Indiana
2013 record: 5-7

Unless Indiana finds a defense, this game is nothing more than a tune-up before Michigan comes to town. Kevin Wilson fired his defensive coordinator after an historically bad unit hamstrung the Hoosiers last season. He seems to finally be putting stock in defense after two seasons of all offense for Indiana. If the Hoosiers’ defense were anything but atrocious, they’d be a bowl team.

Nov. 29 vs. Michigan
2013 record: 7-6, lost to Kansas State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

Al Borges is out, Doug Nussmeier is in. That doesn’t mean Brady Hoke is off the hot seat at Michigan. If anything, it confirms the rising temperature. It’s now or never for both Hoke and quarterback Devin Gardner. The past two seasons have been filled with supreme disappointment for the Wolverines.

A near victory against Ohio State last year did nothing to lessen the cries from locals. Things are set up for success in 2014, though. Michigan’s offensive line, despite losing Taylor Lewan, should benefit from a year of experience. That, combined with improved production from running backs, should allow Nussmeier to get creative with Gardner. There also won’t be as much stress on the defense. Greg Mattison’s unit should be back among the best in the Big Ten.


Comments Show All Comments

JOhio1560's picture

Thanks Kyle. That made me really thirsty for some football. Is it September yet?

I'm not finished!  Before we let you leave, your commander must cross that field, present himself before this army, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse.

TMac's picture

Thanks Kyle. That made me really thirsty for some football. Is it September AUGUST yet?
Fixed it for you. 

ONE Not Done!

BuckeyeChief's picture

I am actually stationed with an O-lineman from the  Navy game...great guy, we actually talk a lot about football. He said he enjoyed playing the 'Shoe, great experience.

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

BuckeyeChief's picture

Pardon my ignorance, but when do the Navy tickets go on sale?

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

InvertMyVeer's picture

Google search brought me to this site that said ticket info would be available at the end of January.

Football is complicated...

BuckeyeChief's picture

Thank you. Couldn't get any info.

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

BUCKSOMIES's picture

Thanks Kyle.  All I can say is "Hike".

BoFuquel's picture

The opponents will never get a word of praise from me. They are dirt underfoot, and that is all they will ever be in my eyes. Just more trash to loath and toss away.You go giving respect to these nobodies , you;re weak, and will never go undefeated, and that's the only acceptable ending. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Knarcisi's picture

Extra caffeine in that coffee this morning?

mr.green's picture

Thanks Kyle.this may be the first year I attend more away games than home games. Live too close to miss Navy and MD and now that you say night game, State College is calling. 

mr.green's picture

Thanks Kyle. This may be the first year I attend more away games than home games. Live too close to miss Navy and MD and now that you say night game, State College is calling. 

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great write up Kyle.  Next year's schedule will be tougher.  That is good to see.  Hopefully when we schedule teams years in advance it pans out that they are still top team, hard to predict though.  I think this coming year we do have a decent OOC schedule.
Go Bucks!

nm_buck's picture

at Sparty will be HUGE.

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

sgtlil's picture

How many teams are we playing this year coming off bye weeks? I know we played like 4 straight last year. Can someone explain why we are playing at Michigan State again? They played at Michigan State in 2012.

GoBucksOSU's picture

The divisions being redone basically restarts the alternations. TTUN plays at MSU for a 2nd year in a row this year.

headina's picture

obviously they are a garbage team, but IU will be playing at the shoe for the second consecutive season.


Idaho Helga's picture

Only Sparty and Penn St have bye weeks before playing us.  That was a good question, considering last year's schedule.

seafus26's picture

We are victims again of a former good program, VTech, not being what they were when we originally derived the schedule. Being in the Big10, we roll a crap shoot that a marque game scheduled will materialize as planned to save our schedule. This is not our fault but rather the fault of the rest of our conference not putting the record funds the confenrence has been earning back into their programs.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

ATLBuckeye09's picture

Come on you guys know the narrative that is coming. Look at the patsies and cupcakes on that schedule. Navy I mean Navy they don't even play in a real conference and Maryland they stink and are a basketball school. Cincinnati they play football? Oh and Virginia Tech they haven't been good since they had Michael Vick. Now last year VT & Maryland because they were in the ACC and it helped FSU then those teams were good enough. But for the next 2 years VT sucks, Maryland & Rutgers will always suck because now they are in the B1G. This is what is coming from eSECpn & seCBS and the like. Just get ready for it because with a 4 team playoff they want to do whatever they can to keep the B1G out and make the SECheaters get 2 teams in the playoff.

Because they wouldn't let me go for 3!
Woody Hayes 1913-1987

NitroBuck's picture

You got that right.  Funny how VT was built up by the SEC spinmeisters last year as a result of being on Bama's schedule.  The Hokies won't get that positive spin this year.

Ferio.  Tego.

+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Excellent late January write-up.
Seeing Kent State and Cincy on the schedule takes me back to 2002.
That was a pretty good year.

Jack_Q_Football's picture

Would love to see a home & home with a traditional SEC team like Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, or South Carolina. That'd be great for college football.

Knarcisi's picture

Yeah, it would, but these SEC landmark programs have completely avoided coming north. 

CptBuckeye24's picture

Which is just ridiculous.  I mean, if OSU is willing to play Oregon, Texas, USC, why not play a SEC team like Georgia or LSU?  Or anybody for that matter?  I believe the SEC teams would not schedule and then criticize the B1G and the others for a weak schedule.  That's the easy way to cop out.

NitroBuck's picture

The Buckeyes had home & home deals scheduled with Tennessee (2018/19) and Georgia (2020/21).  Then the Vols pulled the plug after their program slipped, and OSU dropped UGA to play Oregon instead.

Ferio.  Tego.

MarkC's picture

South Carolina? They are in no way a traditional power. They are coming off their best three years ever and never made a BCS game. This is a classic example of a team (like TCU) getting hot for a few years and regressing to the mean within a few years. The same thing happened with Cal. When that game was scheduled, Aaron Rodgers was handing off to Marshawn Lynch and passing to Desean Jackson. Fast forward eight years and those guys are gone and the coach is getting fired. Games against schools like Cincinnati, North Carolina and TCU need to be considered secondary games while opponents like Oklahoma, LSU, Texas, and USC represent marquee matchups.

Jack_Q_Football's picture

Yeah, agreed SC isn't a traditional power, I just threw them in there because they've had recent success. Plus, we owe them revenge. 
I wish college football could schedule like college basketball, less than 1 year ahead, instead of having to rely on 7 years ahead of time.

rock flag and eagle's picture

Aaron Rodgers (2003-04) did not pass to DeSean Jackson at Cal (2005-07).

CptBuckeye24's picture

SC has just 2 conference titles, 1969 and 1933, a 7-12 bowl record and a 51% winning percentage.  Not exactly an elite program. 
Furthermore it took them until 2011 to get their first 11 win season.

Knarcisi's picture

Following Virginia Tech, we have Oklahoma, TCU, Oregon, and Texas on the OOC schedule. We've done our jobs with the OOC scheduling. I won't fault Gene Smith and others here. We caught Washington in an odd game (1 game, away), down year a few years ago and we scheduled Cal when they were top 10 and on the rise.  We've come off home and homes with Texas, USC, and Miami. 

Seattle Linga's picture

So excited for the new crop of youngsters to get started --------- Glad to see that a few have joined the ranks already. Looking forward to the new defense !!!!!!!!!!!!

PittBuckeye's picture

I wonder how Cal feels about being called a cupcake.

Knarcisi's picture

What should they be called after 3-9 and 1-11?

CptBuckeye24's picture

Awful??  Garbage?  Borderline FCS material?

southbay's picture

I don't know, but they earned it.  Cupcakes.

Go1Bucks's picture

Im starting to think it might be easier to get to the playoffs than get to represent the B1G in the Rose Bowl.  I look forward to tougher games for the Bucks.  Drank with a bunch of Middies post game when they were here, they were an absolute hoot. Cant wait to be in Maryland.

Go Bucks!

southbay's picture

If the playoffs had started this year, would not Sparty at 12-1 and B1G champ have qualified?  
Then, would the Rose Bowl game have been a playoff game, how will it work?  If not, then would the Buckeyes have played in it?

Crimson's picture

The top 4 teams, determined in some way, play a game hosted by one of the major 4 bowls, 2 rotating each year.  If the Rose Bowl hosts it, traditional alliances be damned.  If the Rose Bowl doesn't host it, they might keep the remaining B1G Pac12 teams.

ChazBuckeye's picture

This schedule looks SO much better than the last two years.  Let's just hope VA Tech has a good enough offense to win at least 9 games.  IMO, Cincy will be a tough game.  More difficult than Navy.  I don't think Navy will be as good of a surprise game like it was back in 2009. Look out for Cincy though...it's not your typical Bearcat's team.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.